BY BUDDY NEVINS
U. S. Sen. Marco Rubio is playing a dangerous game.
The game is called Marco’s Running For President and it trumps every anything else in Rubio’s life.
As a representative of a state regularly pummeled by hurricanes, Rubio should know that voting against Sandy storm relief hurts real people.
Still, what counts to Rubio is his political career.
With his name on every pundit’s lips as a possible presidential candidate, he must keep himself ideologically pure to remain in the GOP mix. Republican primaries punish any candidate voting for federal spending.
That’s the real reason that when the Sandy relief bill came up, he voted “no”.
In doing so, Marco Rubio played politics with peoples’ lives.
His excuse: It contained a lot of pet projects unrelated to Sandy.
First of all, pet projects to Rubio are jobs and necessary government functions to others.
Second of all, the people in New Jersey, New York and other hard-hit areas need the money. It doesn’t matter if the bill funds the opera. They need money now.
I guess Rubio’s own future is more important than people in need.
At least Rubio is consistent. Earlier this year when he voted against the Gulf Coast Restoration Act for regions affected by the BP spill.
He gave the same reason: needless pet projects.
The Tampa Bay Times said Rubio was the only Gulf state senator, including Republicans, who voted against the relief bill. He did so after Grover Norquist said that spending offsets in the bill violated the anti-tax pledge Rubio signed.
So he didn’t care about the Florida Gulf Coast relief from an oil spill if it could interfere with his own political agenda. In that light, the Sandy vote is no surprise.
I just hope we don’t have a hurricane and depend on Rubio’s vote for relief.
Here is Rubio’s blog post explaining his vote last week against aid for Sandy victims:
By Senator Marco Rubio
Last month, I watched with great sadness as Hurricane Sandy hit various eastern seaboard states and destroyed towns, property and lives. While Florida was spared the worst damage seen in the northeast, given Sandy’s sheer size and trajectory, even our state experienced some damage.
As a Floridian, I am all too familiar with the impact of storms like this and offered my prayers that the people impacted by Sandy would find strength in God’s love and the company of their loved ones in its aftermath.
From a public policy standpoint, I have always believed one of the most critical roles of any government is to help people impacted by natural disasters. Effective coordination between local, state and federal governments are vital to helping people and starting the clean-up and rebuilding process. Swift, smart action can make a huge difference in difficult times like these.
That’s why I’ve made clear in the past that emergency assistance bills like this should be handled with a sense of urgency and should not be derailed by efforts to find spending cuts to offset them, for example. When people are suffering gravely because of natural disasters, every moment we delay is a moment of delayed relief for victims.
However, we do have a responsibility to make sure this emergency spending is ultimately going to disaster relief, and not to other pet projects. Unfortunately, the Hurricane Sandy supplemental bill goes far beyond emergency relief to impacted victims and communities, which is why I voted no on final passage.
For example, it includes spending for fishery projects in Alaska, money to fix museum roofs in Washington, D.C., money to plant trees around the country, and money for a water resources priority study, among other measures. It calls for $818 million for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), $336 million for Amtrak and $482 million for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) – all amounts exponentially greater than originally requested by the White House. Despite several votes on amendments intended to strip out this excess, unrelated spending and return the bill to its original purpose of helping families and communities impacted by Hurricane Sandy, the final bill went far beyond that.
In sum, the current spending bill goes far beyond emergency relief and all efforts to strip the bill of unrelated pork are being blocked. As a result, I cannot support it. Instead, I support a cleaner alternative version proposed by Senator Dan Coats (R-IN) that costs less by keeping the focus on people and communities impacted by Hurricane Sandy.